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Ethical lapses only hurt Republicans because they fall short of a standard Democrats have largely rejected. Democrats only get in trouble when they abandon progressive policies. In supporting the war in Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman ran afoul of his party and had to run as an independent. Evil has been redefined to mean opposition to progressive policies, which is why red-state politicians have been tagged with a scarlet letter no matter how much character and integrity they have.

THOMAS M. BEATTIE

Mount Vernon

Fair test for new citizens

The complaints from “immigrant organizations” about proposed changes to the citizenship test simply reinforce the need for those changes (“Activists rap new test for citizens,” Page 1, Wednesday). The idea that we should dumb down the test for people who don’t speak English and don’t know anything about American history ignores a critically important point about immigration: It is primarily for the benefit of America, not simply for the benefit of the person who wants to be here.

Immigration has worked well for generations in the United States because there was a confluence of the interests of the nation and the immigrants. We wanted their labor, their economic demand and maybe even their cultural influence. They wanted to provide those things in return for the chance at a better life as Americans, becoming part of the American fabric, with primary loyalty to the United States and pride in their new nation. Immigration also worked best before America dipped its toe in the water of socialism; as the late Milton Friedman pointed out, wide-open immigration is incompatible with a welfare state.

Immigration must not be only about the benefit to the immigrant or, even worse, the benefit to the immigrant’s home country, which wants to export its poor people and let others take that burden. If a would-be immigrant can’t answer six out of 10 questions about the country he is claiming to value more than his own, we shouldn’t want him.

ROSS KAMINSKY

Nederland, Colo.

Domestic abuse

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